How the Six Cities Paper was a Game Changer for Clean Air – a Lesson for Addressing Climate Change?


Prevailing winds – A decades-long fight to bring clean air standards in line with environmental health science offers lessons for today.(Harvard School of Public Health News, Fall 2012)

Also discussed here: An Association between Air Pollution and Mortality in Six U.S. Cities(7 page pdf, Douglas W. Dockery, C. Arden Pope, Xiping Xu, John D. Spengler, James H. Ware, Martha E. Fay, Benjamin G. Ferris, Jr., and Frank E. Speizer, The New England Journal of Medecine, Dec. 9, 1993)

And here: Harvard Six Cities Study Follow Up: Reducing Soot Particles Is Associated with Longer Lives(Harvard School of Public Health Press Release, Mar. 16, 2006)

Today we recall a paper published 20 years ago that caused a major shift in national public policy for regulating cleaner air and lowering emissions of fine particulate matter. Until it was published (in 1993), the link between mortality and air quality had not been established. After it was published, based on the survival rates in six cities over 14-16 years, new PM 2.5 standards were introduced that “would prevent 15,000 premature deaths annually”.

What is particularly interesting and relevant today to the “debate” about climate change is the need to present scientific data in a clear unambiguous manner (as it was in the six cities case) to avoid the delays introduced deniers looking for insignificant errors in raw data (which has been the situation for the last decade with the climate change issue). The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) should pay attention!

six cities graph

To see Key Quotes and Links to key reports about this post, click HERE

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